I hadn’t given the word “ambition” much thought until recently, when I had a wonderful conversation with my colleague and friend, Bonnie Marcus.
She and I had an interesting conversation about what being ambitious as a woman means and it got me thinking.
But first, I wanted to clarify the definition of ambition really is.
According to the dictionary, ambition is:
- a strong desire to do or to achieve something, typically requiring determination and hard work.
- an earnest desire for some type of achievement or distinction, as power, honor, fame, or wealth, and the willingness to strive for its attainment.
So I wondered, am I ambitious?
It seemed like it would be an easy question to answer, but in fact, it wasn’t.
It wasn’t easy to answer because ambition is defined by context. What does “achieve” mean? For each of us, achievement looks different; and our definition of achievement changes through the ages and stages of our lives.
As I reflect on my life, I realize that I have been extremely ambitious at some times, and not so much at others.
And yet, I have always had goals and have been relentless in my pursuit of them, even when they were more personal in nature, not professional.
Ambition is a tricky thing for women, and recent research shows that while women are ambitious, their choices around what to do with their ambition can be complicated.
Now that my children are off in college, I have a level of freedom that I haven’t had in many years, and what that means is that I am in a time of my life that will allow me to focus on my professional path; and it forces me to create a clear and powerful vision for the difference I want to make in the world as a woman, partner, mother and professional.
Yes, I have dreams, goals and intentions…and they are big and bold. And I can’t wait to throw myself into this new time of ambition.
When is the last time that you asked yourself about ambition? When is the last time that you carefully assessed and created a definition of being ambitious that works for you, your age and stage, and the way you want to feel in your life?
One of the reasons there are not more women in the c-suite is not only because it is harder to get there, but because they choose not to be there. They choose a different definition of what ambition means to them. It is our right as women…the right to choose how ambition looks in our lives.
There is no right or wrong, better or worse, good or bad. It is yours to define.
You only have one life.
One amazing, beautiful, opportunity filled life.
And I know you. You and I, we are not afraid of hard work or commitment.
You are disciplined, tenacious and resilient beyond measure. There is nothing you can’t do if you get clear on what you want and keep your eye on the prize.
So, what will it take for you to activate the ambition within you?